Oh “The Host”… poor, poor “The Host”. It tried, but it’s pretty bad. Its characters are lame, its plot avoids all conflict, and the voice-over conceit is unintentional hilarity. As bad as it is, I just can’t bring myself to hate it. I’ve got the gun pointed at its head, finger on the trigger, while over my cool headset Spencer Sterritt yells at me to “Take the shot!” But I can’t. I let the gun go slack in my hand and gesture for it to leave. Go on, “The Host”! Get out of here! I may need to quit reviewing; I’ve gone soft. I just can’t get mad at “The Host”.
So the Earth has been taken over by these little alien brain parasite dealies that possess people and turn them into what Rush Limbaugh thinks liberals are. Saoirse Ronan is one of the most recently possessed humans, whose memories the aliens hope to use to locate the remaining resistance.
A Host of problems. Ugh, that doesn’t even make sense.
Okay so bad stuff. First off there is the whole voice over angle I talked about earlier. Even though Saoirse’s character gets an alien shoved in her brain in the first five minutes, she still sticks around as an ever present voice-over, talking sass against the alien parasite. While interesting on paper, this proves to be a colossally bad idea that nearly single-handedly dooms the entire movie. See, the whole key to “The Host” is sympathizing with Saoirse’s plight, but if she lacks the agency to do much of anything for 90% of the movie, we don’t get a sense of her character or why we should care about her. We are given a one minute long introduction scene, and then she takes a backseat for most of the film. The movie tries to remedy this by giving us a few flashbacks to her normal life, but since all we that we learn from this is that she likes ~+~cute boyz~+~ who sexually assault her, it’s not very effective. The result is that you end up caring more about the alien, rather than the person the alien is controlling, and you won’t really give a care whether or she gets her body back or not.
This dovetails in with the horribly stock dialogue, and again it’s in the voice-over where most of the problems lie. The main issue is the tone of it, and its wild inconsistency. You will have one scene where people are discussing the dwindling human populace, and how they plan to survive in this new, bleak world, and then -sometimes the very same scene- you have “Saved By The Bell” style dialogue like, “oh you did not kiss my boyfriend!” that might as well have canned audience reactions saying “oOOOOOooohhh!” going along with it. The other issue is that it sucks.
A Thought Exercise.
But these are all baby-school compared to the real problem: the total lack of suspense and drama that permeates the film. Imagine this was written by two different people, let’s call one “A” and the other “Andrew Niccol.” “A” would write some exciting problem that the characters would have to solve, and that leaves the audience genuinely interested in how it will be resolved, then “A” leaves the room. Soon, Andrew Niccol walks in, see the conflict, and claps his hands to his cheeks while letting out a comically exaggerated shriek. “Oh dear!” He presumably says, “This is scary! I can’t have my characters be in trouble!” Then he feverishly writes in a solution, solving the problem before it could generate any suspense. This continues throughout pretty much the entire film, until the ludicrously easy ending, that comes totally out of nowhere, and totally solves everyone’s problems forever. On the off chance that you care about what happens to these losers, the movie stomps out any suspense as soon as it can.
So why do I like this movie? Because, as terrible as it is, it tried. I’ve seen so many movies these days that are just clearly cash grabs based off a recognizable actor or a well known brand-name, that to see a movie that actually had like, a story to tell, was refreshing. This movie was made by people who wanted to make art, and not just to steal your money. I mean, those people are all super dumb, and their art sucks, but I can’t find it in my heart to be mad. It’s like a little kid running up to you with a crappy picture they made out of macaroni; you don’t tell them it’s terrible, you ruffle their hair a bit and go “This is great, sport! This is going right on the fridge!” Or at least I assume that’s what you would do. No one has talked to me in a while.
So “The Host”. You shouldn’t see it, but if you meet someone who says they liked it, don’t be mad at them.
My Rating: 4/10